MBIA Says Boating Industry Recovery Begins at Detroit Boat Show

Feb 08, 2011, 09:06 ET from Michigan Boating Industries Association

Detroit Boat Show poised to see greater attendance and sales

LIVONIA, Mich., Feb. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA), producers of the Detroit Boat Show, Spring Boating Expo and Boating & Outdoor Festival (three of Michigan's biggest boat shows), carefully watch attendance trends in Michigan and around the country to help predict outcomes for their Michigan shows.  "We've had reports from more than 10 first quarter boat shows and all have experienced attendance increases and positive sales results," said show manager John Ropp.  "Other non-boating consumer shows in Michigan and around the country are also seeing increased attendance including our own Detroit Auto Show."

Nationally, the 2011 winter show season is expected to be much stronger than 2010 for both attendance and sales.  Dealer reports from the Toronto and Nashville shows indicate strong sales, many with cash deposits according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.  "We expect that trend to continue here in Detroit," said Ropp.  There is a lot of pent up demand and people who are working are less nervous about job security as we start to see a turnaround."

Traditionally, sales at the Detroit Boat Show were bolstered by union workers getting bonus checks.  Ford Motor Company and GM have indicated some union workers are poised to get profit-sharing checks averaging around $5,000 in the near future – something they have not received in a long time and which may go toward the purchase of a new boat or motor at the show.  "Reports indicate the checks could be the biggest in a decade and are a testament to the strong rebound in the auto industry," said Ropp.  "This can be seen as the precursor to a rebound in the boating industry which typically follows the auto industry."

In general, the boating industry feels strongly the recovery in new boat sales will begin this winter at boat shows.  Buyers are sitting in a "sweet spot" where boat prices are competitive, interest rates are low and the economy is rebounding.  The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports consumer confidence, while much lower than we would like today, is 10 points higher than it was a year ago. It is gradually recovering. GDP has been growing for five straight quarters (soon to be six when Q4 10 is announced) and predictions for next year are in the 3-4 percent growth range. The boating industry tends to do well when GDP growth is 3 percent or better. Light vehicle sales have recovered nicely — up 11 percent in 2010, with most auto forecasters predicting a stronger 2011. And, consumer spending has only been down once in the past eighteen months. Consumers are spending again! Unemployment and housing continue to lag, but momentum has clearly shifted in the boating industry's favor.

SOURCE Michigan Boating Industries Association